February third is the Lunar New Year, celebrated in East Asia as the New Year or Spring Festival.
The Reuters article “Chinese Ready for Upheaval, Sex in Year of the Rabbit” is a lively explanation that each year in the Chinese system has its own character. Since the Year of the Rabbit is full of motion and excess, the article predicts lots of sex scandals. Since both Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were born in rabbit years, the article says they would be well advised not to tie the knot next year.
The Wikipedia article “Lunar New Year” leads to articles on holidays observed according to lunar systems, including Rosh Hashanah. The Chinese New Year article is long and full of more details than most of us would need, but the principal menace to humanity is that following the links will take you to so many fascinating places that the rest of the morning is shot.
Traditionally New Year lasted for fifteen days. When I lived in Taiwan my landlord explained that back on the mainland in the old days, New Year was when the rice bin got emptier and the outhouse got fuller.
But I’m still not sure why it’s “rabbit” and not “hare.”
Added Later: The University of Southern California US-China Institute has a nice collection of Rabbit postage stamps from the PRC, Macau, Taiwan, and the US in its Talking Points of February 2-16. And also rabbit stamps from Australia, Bhutan, Canada, France. Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Japan, Laos, Latvia, Malaysia (Children’s Pet Series), Marshall Islands (1999), Mongolia, Nevis, New Zealand, Philippines, South Korea, Thailand, Uganda (1999), and Vietnam.
You can tell when your culture has real “soft” power by the number of stamps issued around the world for your holidays!
Even More! McDonalds, Pepsi, and Coca Cola Celebrate Chinese New Year by Daniel Gilroy at ChinaSMACK has a series of TV commercials from organisations who have created ad campaigns to “welcome in the Chinese New Year (and of course try and make some big sales).” Lots of fun to watch.
BTW, ChinaSMACK, which “provides English translations of current social issues being discussed on various Chinese forums” frequently has smart and insightful reports on advertising, pop culture, and current hot topics in China.